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Choosing a profession is one of those things in life that everyone does, some taking longer than others, for one reason or another. The journey from point A to B is what makes us stand out from every other mammal standing in line at the coffee shop. Most PR folks I’ve spoken with have jumped into the field after college or transferred from a marketing or journalistic role. I took a different route and fell into the field during my sophomore year in college.
That year I landed a spot as a marketing intern with the Jersey Devils. Next, I interviewed with the New York Knicks, where the hiring manager let me know that I was a great communicator and that the skill would be wasted in marketing. So the next year, without knowing what a public relations person was – I was it for NY’s basketball team. After a year-plus of loathing basketball – losing sucks after all – I wound up in Baltimore competing for a year gig with the Baltimore Ravens that wound up being a two-year stint. My fascination with sports public and media relations came to an end after working for a minor league baseball team for two years on Long Island (more on that here).
While my route to becoming a corporate flack is different than most, it has given me a unique perspective on the PR industry as a whole. Plant your tongue in your cheek for a grass is greener lesson.
Don’t complain about clip books – Don’t lie, you hate making clip books. Even though the ruler says 3” and blows the shorts off your client, it’s the first task to get delegated. Please don’t complain about it, though. There were days when the daily clips were hitting a few inches at a time. These were also hand cuts from the paper and taped page by page (coaches liked seeing the actual press clipping) god forbid they were ever crooked. Score – PR 1, Sports 0
Prepare for the unexpected – Working with reporters and executives can be challenging. They all have egos and want things done on their terms, not yours, but you get the job done. Add muscle and multiply the ego by Donald Trump, mix and roll tape. Unlike pestering assistants for the executive, getting an athlete to an interview can be an intricate and time consuming game of cat and mouse. For example, to do an interview with Sports Illustrated Ed Reed told me I had to catch him in a footrace in the Ravens’ facility. After being embarrassed by the All-Pro, he did the interview, but it was a Rodney Dangerfield moment. Sometimes the pranks weren’t as innocent – can we say cold tub? So think about the cold water next time you bitch about the executive or reporter pushing the interview back 30 minutes to three months. PR 2, Sports 0
Working your passion – We have all heard Gary Vaynerchuck talk about how now is the time to Crush It and work our passion. Now unless your name is Danny Brown or Michael Dolan (or you own your own firm) you are probably working for a company(s) internally or as their agency. The question is: are you working for a company or industry that you are passionate about? While in sports, I was working living and breathing the thing that I am most passionate about – sports. So for the time, I didn’t mind the pay, hours or seeing my family. I was in my glory and living the dream. Score that PR 2, Sports 1
Working for the weekend? – Do you complain when you have to come in early or stay late for an interview or to get a project done? Please don’t – your coworkers will loathe you for it and no one wants to hear it. It sucks, but it is something that comes with the territory. Sports taught me that to have success, you need to put in the hours. Also if you think that working a long week Monday thru Friday is tough; imagine living with your coworkers in tight quarters and no off-days in a hick town. That my friends, is an annual rite of passage called football training camp. There were also stretches with the baseball team where we were on for 80 hours a week, so forget weekends. Hell, weekends are what I live for now. Score PR 3, Sports 1
Now while the score might seem like an NHL blowout, it’s really just a matter of circumstances that led me to being a flack out of water and adapting to a new role in PR. The unconventional approach to getting from A to B also gives me a unique way of getting things done. It might be different from book learning, but hey it works for me. If you want to learn more about sports PR or the industry in general, shoot me a line or swing by Mike Schaffer’s #sportsprchat.
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